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Save Smarter

How to save 2x faster with one simple step.

Financial Wellbeing Coach

2023-02-08 00:00

Estimated reading time
7 min

In this article

  • Tips for saving money faster
  • Ways to save money on a low income
  • How to save money as a student
  • Learn why people with goals save faster

Whether you’re eyeing-up your first home, planning that long-delayed holiday or just looking for some sweet, sweet security, one thing is safe to assume: if you have a savings account, you probably want more savings in it.

How you actually go about saving that money is the real question. Some swear by being thrifty, others recommend picking up a second (or even third) job to get more money coming in. But there’s an overlooked step on the road to higher savings that is much simpler – and far less time-consuming – than all that.

You may have heard of it... it’s called "goal setting”. And it’s all about putting your target out there and letting your brain take care of the rest.

Why can't I save money?

We get it, saving is hard. There are a multitude of factors that can get in the way – from bills to social events and unexpected expenses. If you don’t have the right foundations in place, like a budget, it can be even harder to see any change. While some of us might think that when we have a higher paying job we’ll finally be able to save, but the truth is that it’s not about how much you earn, it’s what you do with it that counts.

People with goals save faster. Fact.

Recent research by the team at ANZ suggests the simple act of setting a savings goal can be enough to save twice as quickly. That means more money, in less time.

Sound too good to be true? Over the two years since 2019, we surveyed over 5 million Aussies’ savings journeys and the theory holds up. On average, people with savings goals save 2 times faster than those without.

All that extra money, just from deciding on a specific future figure? To some this might sound a bit woo-woo - like the financial equivalent of manifesting wealth through positive thought. But there’s some good science behind the phenomenon.

Tips for saving money faster

According to the American psychologist Dr Edwin Locke, setting a goal helps your brain draw a mental roadmapdisclaimer. That map outlines where you are, where you’re heading, and the steps you need to take to get there.

Setting goals also helps nudge us towards more positive actions because of that sense of fulfilment we feel when we meet them. And if we don’t, our brain wants to keep steering us in the right direction.

Of course, not all goals are created equal, and working out which ones are likely to work can be difficult. Thankfully, there are a few ways to set yourself up for success. 

  1. Be specific with your saving goals
    The clearer the goal, the clearer the roadmap – and the higher your chance of achieving what you set out to. For this reason, vague goals are old news. Phrases like “I will try to save more money” are less useful than ones that include specific figures for certain milestones, like “I will save $3,000 in 12 months for a holiday to Fiji” or “I will put 10% of my earnings into a savings account every month to put towards a home deposit”. This is where our free goal-setter worksheet (PDF) comes in handy, to set clear, definitive goals you can actually stick to.
  2. Challenge yourself to save money
    It may sound counterintuitive, but easy goals aren’t motivating. In fact, the harder a goal is to achieve, the harder you’ll work to achieve it. The reason for this is relatively simple: achieving something you’ve worked hard for just feels better. The keyword is challenging, not impossible. Make sure it’s within the realm of possibility – no one wants to set themselves up to fail. 
  3. Write down your saving goals
    In 1979, Harvard MBA grads demonstrated that simply writing a goal down on paper increased the likelihood of it being achieved. The study even found that students who put their career goals in writing earned about 10 times as much as what their fellow students made after graduation. So, get your pens out, or better yet, add a picture and set a savings goal (on eligible accounts) within the ANZ App to help visualise your objective. We can’t guarantee that recording your goals will earn you 10 times more money, but science suggests it’ll help.

How to save money on a low income

You don’t have to be earning the big bucks to save money – even a small contribution can help your overall savings goals in the long run. Whatever you do, just make sure it’s within your means. If you’re consistent, you’ll start to notice your savings grow – slowly but surely. 

  • Make a budget and stick to it
  • Buy home brand (cliché, we know but it really can help) 
  • Shop at second-hand stores
  • Allocate a portion of your income to savings (e.g., $50 per month)

How to save money as a student

When you’re studying, it can be hard to make ends meet. You may not have a job, and receive only a small allocation of money from the government or a family member. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat 2-minute noodles for every meal. It’s still possible to save – even if it’s only a little bit here and there.

Here’s some handy ways to regularly save a few dollars: 

  • Buy food in bulk when it will make an actual saving – see more food budgeting tips
  • Purchase textbooks second-hand
  • Take your lunch/snacks to campus 
  • Go out on a dedicated ‘uni night’ (when special meal/drink deals are likely)

A final tip for saving money faster?

Some studiesdisclaimer show that humans perform better when someone is watching us. We’re not talking Big Brother-type watching, but essentially, we’re more likely to speed up our savings if there’s someone holding us accountable.

So, try telling a friend or partner about your new saving goals - or set a joint goal and work towards it together. You might consider mentioning the smaller steps you’re taking to get there too, and watch the extra motivation roll in. Sound easy? Good. It’s one simple step you can take towards better financial wellbeing, and bigger savings.

How to save 2x faster with one simple step.
Financial Wellbeing Coach

How to save money 2x faster with one simple action

You don’t have to earn the big bucks to save money

Set a savings goal



The information set out above is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information, you should consider whether the information is appropriate for you having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. By providing this information ANZ does not intend to provide any financial advice or other advice or recommendations. You should seek independent financial, legal, tax and other relevant advice having regard to your particular circumstances.

The ANZ App is provided by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited (ANZ) ABN 11 005 357 522. Super and Insurance (if available) are not provided by ANZ but entities which are not banks. ANZ does not guarantee them. This information is general in nature only and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. ANZ recommends that you read the ANZ App Terms and Conditions available here for iOS (PDF) and here for Android (PDF) and consider if this service is appropriate to you prior to making a decision to acquire or use the ANZ App.

*Compares avg monthly uplift in savings growth for a number of ANZ Progress Saver and/or ANZ Online Saver accounts with a goal vs accounts without for Aug-19 to Jul-21.

Locke, E. A. (1968). ‘Towards a theory of task motivation and incentives’, Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance. 3(2), 157-189. Elsevier.


Locke, E. A. (1968). ‘Towards a theory of task motivation and incentives’, Organizational Behaviour and Human Performance. 3(2), 157-189. Elsevier.